NFL's Most Notable Indefinite Suspensions Amid Deshaun Watson Case

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NFL's most notable indefinite suspensions amid Deshaun Watson case originally appeared on NBC Sports Chicago

In June, the NFL was seeking an indefinite suspension of at least a year for Cleveland Browns quarterback Deshaun Watson, who faced 24 civil lawsuits in which he was accused of sexual misconduct.

After an agreement was made between the NFL and NFLPA on Aug. 18, Watson will be suspended for the first 11 of the 2022 regular season games and fined $5 million for violations of the league's Personal Conduct Policy. 

The league has handed down indefinite suspensions in the past to players, coaches and staff members for both on-field and off-field incidents. 

Here are some notable indefinite suspensions previously issued by the NFL:  

Myles Garrett, Cleveland Browns - Nov. 15, 2019 

In the final seconds of the Cleveland Browns' victory over the Pittsburgh Steelers in Week 11, Browns defensive end Myles Garrett ripped the helmet off Steelers quarterback Mason Rudolph during a skirmish and swung it at him, partially striking him in the head.

Garrett was suspended without pay indefinitely, for a minimum of the remainder of the regular season and postseason, for violations "of unnecessary roughness and unsportsmanlike conduct rules, as well as fighting, removing the helmet of an opponent and using the helmet as a weapon," according to a statement from NFL senior VP of communications Michael Signora.

Garrett missed the final six games of the season and was reinstated on Feb. 12, 2020.

John Jastremski and Jim McNally, New England Patriots - May 6, 2015 

In addition to Tom Brady being suspended four games for the deflated footballs used in the AFC Championship, two New England Patriots’ equipment staffers believed to have been involved in the “Deflategate” scandal were suspended indefinitely.

John Jastremski, the team’s equipment assistant, and Jim McNally, the officials’ locker room attendant, were identified in a report by a league-appointed attorney as the staffers who deflated the footballs to Brady’s liking. The two were reinstated in September of 2015.  

Adrian Peterson, Minnesota Vikings - Nov. 18, 2014 

Minnesota Vikings star running back Adrian Peterson was suspended for the remainder of the 2014 season - and ineligible to be considered for reinstatement prior to April 15, 2015 - after he pled no contest to misdemeanor reckless injury charges stemming from an incident in which he injured his four-year-old son while disciplining him. Peterson, who initially was placed on the commissioner's exempt list after he was indicted by a Texas grand jury on Sept. 12 of that year, missed the final 15 games of the regular season. Peterson was reinstated in February of 2015 and informed by Roger Goodell that he had to fulfill all remaining legal obligations and undergo additional counseling and treatments.  

Ray Rice, Baltimore Ravens - Sept. 8, 2014

Running back Ray Rice was released by the Baltimore Ravens and given an indefinite suspension after a video obtained by TMZ from February of that year showed him hitting his then-fiancée inside the elevator of a casino in Atlantic City.

Rice - who prior to the video’s release had been initially suspended two games for the incident for violating the league's personal conduct policy - was reinstated from his indefinite suspension two months later after winning an appeal.

The three-time Pro Bowler was 27 years old at the time of his reinstatement but never returned to the NFL.

Richie Incognito, Miami Dolphins - Nov. 4, 2013

Miami Dolphins offensive lineman Richie Incognito was suspended indefinitely for conduct detrimental to the team after harassing and intimidating teammate Jonathan Martin, who abruptly left the team following a lunchroom incident.

An NFL-commissioned report stated that Incognito and fellow offensive linemen used racial insults, homophobic-name calling and sexually explicit remarks towards multiple members of the organization.

Incognito was reinstated in February 2014 but did not return to the NFL until he signed as a free agent with the Buffalo Bills in February 2015. He played three Pro Bowl seasons with Buffalo before missing the 2018 NFL season.

Incognito last played for the Las Vegas Raiders from 2019 to 2021 and remains a free agent heading into the 2022 season.

Sal Alosi (strength and conditioning coach), New York Jets - Dec. 13, 2010

Sal Alosi, who at the time was the head strength and conditioning coach for the New York Jets, instructed five players to form a wall on the field during a punt that forced Miami Dolphins player Nolan Carroll to run along the Jets' sideline.

The 33-year-old coach then intentionally stuck his knee out to trip Carroll, who fell to the field and remained down in pain. Alosi was suspended by the team and fined $25,000. He resigned from his position seven weeks later.

Michael Vick, Atlanta Falcons - July 27, 2007

The star quarterback for the Atlanta Falcons was suspended indefinitely without pay after his admission of guilt in federal court for his role in running a dog-fighting ring. After serving 18 months in prison, Vick was conditionally reinstated for preseason games in July 2009, with Roger Goodell saying he would consider Vick for full reinstatement by Week 6 at the latest.

Having been released by the Falcons in June, Vick signed with the Philadelphia Eagles in August and made his debut in Week 3.  

Rae Carruth, Carolina Panthers - Dec. 17, 1999

Rae Carruth was arrested on charges of conspiracy and attempted murder after his pregnant girlfriend Cherica Adams was shot while driving her car in 1999. Carruth, after posting the $3 million bail and fleeing the Charlotte area, was released by the Carolina Panthers and suspended indefinitely by the NFL.

Adams died less than a month after the shooting and the child she was carrying, delivered by emergency cesarean section, suffers from brain damage and cerebral palsy.

Carruth was convicted of conspiracy to commit murder and sentenced to 18 to 24 years. He was released in 2018.

Art Schlichter, Baltimore Colts - May 20, 1983

Former NFL commissioner Pete Rozelle suspended Baltimore Colts quarterback Art Schlichter indefinitely for betting on at least 10 NFL games during the 1921 season, according to the Washington Post. Schlichter was diagnosed as a compulsive gambler and entered a hospital for treatment.

Schlichter missed the entire 1983 season, returning in 1984. He ultimately spent roughly two decades in prison from sentences brought on by his gambling addiction. 

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